Survey of Energy Resources 2007
Wise Use of Peat
The International Peat Society (IPS) has combined with the International Mire Conservation Group (IMCG) to develop a procedure for the reasoned and wise use of peat and peatlands globally (Joosten and Clarke, 2002). This contains sound advice for the peat industry which, in turn, should follow the 'wise use' approach. This means that most of the remaining peat bogs in Europe will not be utilised by the peat industry (less than 0.4% of the total peatland area in Europe is currently used in this way) and those that are will have after-use plans, to be implemented at the industry's expense once the extraction work has ended. In most cases, former extraction sites are destined to become CO2 sinks once again.
In conclusion, in order to put CO2 emissions into context, it is important to emphasise that most of the carbon released from peatland in the world today occurs in tropical Southeast Asia. In 1997, between 0.87 and 2.57 billion tonnes of carbon (equivalent to 2.9-8.5 billion tonnes CO2) were discharged into the atmosphere as a result of forest and peat fires in Indonesia in just 4 months (Page, et al. 2002). In the 10 years since then, it is estimated that an average of around 2 billion tonnes of CO2 has been released every year from peatland in Southeast Asia, as a result of peatland deforestation, drainage, degradation and fire. This is equivalent to about 30% of global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels (Hooijer, et al., 2006). Developed countries should focus in particular on the wise use of tropical peatlands in agriculture and forestry, in order to prevent thoughtless release of CO2 into the atmosphere.
The IPS is of the view that from a climate-impact point of view peat is much more acceptable than fossil fuels and that peat can be used in a wise way for the benefit of mankind now and in the future.
International Peat Society